Graphic Designer Career Options
Graphic designers are creative individuals who use text and images - either computer-generated or hand drawn - to express ideas. They work largely in marketing, advertising, or publication, collaborating with writers, art directors, and sales professionals. The common requirements for graphic designers are a bachelor's in graphic design, strong computer skills, and a diverse portfolio. These qualifications, along with several years of experience in the field, can set a graphic designer up for several different career advancement options. The four careers outlined in this article are multimedia artist and animator, web developer, art director, and marketing manager.
|Job Title||Mean Annual Salary (2018)*||Job Growth (2016-26)*||Qualifications|
|Multimedia Artist and Animator||$78,230||8%||Thorough understanding of animation and design applications, animation and design portfolio|
|Web Developer||$75,580||15%||Online programming languages and development applications experience|
|Art Director||$104,590||5%||5+ years of design experience, diverse portfolio|
|Marketing Manager||$147,240||10%||Previous management and marketing experience|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
Multimedia Artist and Animator
A career move for a graphic designer may be multimedia artist and animator. Similar to a graphic designer, a multimedia artist and animator uses both hand-illustrated and computer-generated images to produce a final product; the distinction, however, is that this final product is animated rather than static. Multimedia artists and animators design for video games, movies, or television, usually specializing in their chosen area. A bachelor's degree in a design-related field, such as graphic design or animation, is recommended. Proven computer skills, specifically with animation applications, and a strong animation portfolio are also a must in this competitive field.
A graphic designer with experience in website design may choose to move into the role of web developer. A web developer is responsible for both the front-end visual appeal of a website as well as its back-end functionality. Educational requirements for this role vary from an associate's degree in web design to a bachelor's degree in computer science or related field. Proven web development experience and knowledge of online programming languages and development applications are a must for a graphic designer wishing to enter this field.
An art director manages a design staff to create cohesive visual designs for print or digital publications, movie and television promotions, product marketing, and more. Graphic designers who excel at distilling large concepts into a visual product and who can communicate their vision to others may find the role art director to be a natural next step. A bachelor's degree in graphic design or similar design field is often adequate, though some pursue a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) as a way to set themselves apart from other applicants. At least five years of experience in a design-related field and a strong portfolio are also requirements for this role.
A graphic designer with an affinity for the business side of promotions may find the role of marketing manager a good fit. Marketing managers work with sales staff, art directors, and other management to guide product development, promotions, and sales. Familiarity with various marketing media are important for a marketing manager, as is an understanding of market trends and the ability to lead a diverse team and delegate roles. A bachelor's degree in marketing or a related field is a minimum requirement for a marketing manager. In this competitive field, experience with digital advertising and several years of marketing and management experience can set an applicant apart.